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Circulating, cell-free DNA as a marker for exercise load in intermittent sports

Title data

Haller, Nils ; Helmig, Susanne ; Taenny, Pascal ; Petry, Julian ; Schmidt, Sebastian ; Simon, Perikles:
Circulating, cell-free DNA as a marker for exercise load in intermittent sports.
In: PLoS One. (25 January 2018) .
ISSN 1932-6203
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191915

Project information

Project financing: Andere

Abstract in another language


Attempts to establish a biomarker reflecting individual player load in intermittent sports such as football have failed so far. Increases in circulating DNA (cfDNA) have been demonstrated in various endurance sports settings. While it has been proposed that cfDNA could be a suitable marker for player load in intermittent sports, the effects on cfDNA of repeated sprinting as an essential feature in intermittent sports are unknown. For the first time, we assessed both alterations of cfDNA due to repeated maximal sprints and due to a professional football game.


Nine participants were subjected to a standardised sprint training session with cross-over design of five maximal sprints of 40 meters with either “short” (1 minute) or “long” pauses (5 minutes). Capillary cfDNA and lactate were measured after every sprint and venous cfDNA before and after each series of sprints. Moreover, capillary cfDNA and lactate values were taken in 23 professional football players before and after incremental exercise testing, during the course of a training week at rest (baseline) and in all 17 enrolled players following a season game.


Lactate and venous cfDNA increased more pronounced during “short” compared to “long” (1.4-fold, p = 0.032 and 1.7-fold, p = 0.016) and cfDNA correlated significantly with lactate (r = 0.69; p<0.001). Incremental exercise testing increased cfDNA 7.0-fold (p<0.001). The season game increased cfDNA 22.7-fold (p<0.0001), while lactate showed a 2.0-fold (p = 0.09) increase compared to baseline. Fold-changes in cfDNA correlated with distance covered during game (spearman’s r = 0.87, p = 0.0012), while no correlation between lactate and the tracking data could be found.

We show for the first time that cfDNA could be an objective marker for distance covered in elite intermittent sports. In contrast to the potential of more established blood-based markers like IL-6, CK, or CRP, cfDNA shows by far the strongest fold-change and a high correlation with a particular load related aspect in professional football.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Law, Business and Economics > Chair Healthcare Management and Health Sciences > Chair Healthcare Management and Health Sciences - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. h.c. Eckhard Nagel
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 600 Technology, medicine, applied sciences > 610 Medicine and health
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 11:00
Last Modified: 18 May 2021 11:52
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/65230